Dear Liv || A Letter to my Senior Self

Today's post is a letter to my senior self. This is what I wish I could have heard and learned in the 4 years ago since I was in the place where the class of 2017 is today. Take what I've learned and run with it - go farther and deeper. I'm cheering you on!

I've included some frames from my own senior photos by Hannah Nicole. 

Dear Liv,

 Bad news: you're not going to get any less awkward. Good news: you're going to become more confident and embrace "adorkable." It turns out, boys do like adorkable, so you're going to be just fine.

About boys, we might as well hit that topic right away. Boys are weird. They don't become less weird as you get older, but they do become more beautiful (inside + out). Don't forget to cherish your guy friends, there will be days to come so soon when they get married and your deep life chats are over kitchen tables with their wives. This is cool, but don't wish away the days of giving girl advice or the perfect big brother hugs after breakups and breakdowns.

And don't wish your singleness away. It's actually something really beautiful. But so are the risks that you will take. You will sit in restaurant booths and passenger seats and you'll get honest with people who you care about. Sometimes, they won't choose you. Sometimes, you won't choose them. Remember at the end of the day that you are always chosen by God. Nothing can change that.

God... now God is something that's going to be weird for you. Yes, you've grown up in the front row of a church, but just wait. There's more in store than you could ever imagine. God is a lot bigger, kinder, and more fun than you could ever imagine. The journey to discover this is going to involve asking a whole lot of questions and some days of insane heartbreak, but it will be worth it. You will find freedom, identity, and authority beyond your wildest dreams. Just don't put too much pressure on yourself to have it all figured out right away - or to find the perfect church or be some sort of leader. Just relax and let God love you for two minutes.

The world is more fun than anyone will tell you.

It's also hard. It's beautiful. It's messy. It's surprising. The sooner you learn to embrace life fully, the sooner you'll find contentment in the incomplete. 

Liv, you have big dreams and they're only going to get bigger. They also are going to get braver. The things inside of you - the aching to create beauty and make the world better - they are going to blossom into something beautiful. You are going to have opportunities that are wild. You're going to go on missions trips and work for nonprofits and photograph epic weddings and take crazy road trips. You will climb mountains in Nevada. You will see Wicked on Broadway. You will fall in love with the Pacific Ocean. You will dance in the rain in alleyways in ghettos in the desert. You will find a sense of home in Fargo - among the flat plains and super sketchy river - and it's going to be the best adventure of them all. 

You are going to learn how to fight. How to fight for love and for your family and for your friendships and for God and for your dreams and for yourself. 

You are also going to learn how to rest. How to be still and stop running from the silence. It's hard, sometimes it's even harder than fighting.

Friendships are going to form that are going to make you into the richest girl in the world. Don't put too much pressure on yourself to find a best friend in the first few weeks of college. Sometimes magic takes years to make. Sometimes it takes one quick conversation at a game night about art and music and John Green novels and missions (Fate). Sometimes it takes plates of pasta and broken down cars and inside jokes about Christian subculture (Rach). Sometimes it takes jars of pickles and tearful phone calls and transferring schools (Kara). Sometimes it takes conversations started because of cool earrings that lead to nerding out over nonprofits (Medora). You have no clue who will become dearer than life to you. So just love fiercely and give everyone a chance. 

Learn to be vulnerable and share your heart. Those walls need to come down and they will. People aren't out to get you. You will learn to trust and crush fear in the process. 

Find your heroes and celebrate them. From your campus ministry interns to favorite authors - do what it takes to find people who inspire you. When Hannah Brencher comes to town, go. Hug her. Cry a little. Tell her about all your boy problems. Get her personal cell number. When Shane Claiborne speaks, ask a question at the microphone. (And girl, you really should stand in line to talk to him, because it will be one of your biggest regrets from college.)

Life isn't going to look like your plans.

You won't finish college in two years. You will get into more debt than you wanted. You will change your major, change your school, and change your mind. Life is going to be full of constant change. Even when you don't change, everyone will change around you. The more you learn to be present, the more you'll take the change in stride with all the grace and tenacity required.

There's so much I could say - so much learned in the last four years since we road tripped down to Minneapolis for senior photos and you had absolutely no clue what you were doing after high school. You were just starting to know your way around this photography thing. There's a lot of growth coming. College is more wonder + headache than they say. You won't probably ever have all this life stuff figured out, but that's all part of the fun. Embrace being young + dumb. You'll get better at adulting bit by bit.

Above all, know this:

You are beautiful.

You are enough.

You are brave.

You are going to be okay.

P.S. Keep listening to Sara Bareilles. Don't be afraid to cry. You really should keep up the gluten free thing because it's a lot harder to get back on track after you eat pizza again.